Contextual Research, Final Project

Final Major Project: Considering Others – Cindy Sherman

Figure 1: (Cindy Sherman | Contemporary Art | Hatje Cantz 2018)

The book ‘Cindy Sherman: The Early Works 1975-1977 Catalogue Raisonné‘ has become a favourite of mine. During her student years, Sherman created a fascinating body of work. However, she had to wait 25 years before this work became recognised.

During this time, Sherman concentrated specifically on the processes of transformation combined with her now famous complex and strong narratives. Transformation is central to Sherman’s work. In each image she produces, she performs as both the photographer and the subject.

Sherman has named Suzy Lake as being influential in her work (see previous blog post on Lake’s work). Like Lake, Sherman used the white face makeup as a mask that both hid and revealed the person. In the book, Sherman explains how the white mask helps the transformation from one person to another “using white foundation makeup is like neutralizing my face. It’s a similar process to what a clown does, first erasing all the features and then adding features.” (Schor and Sherman 2012: 36)

Despite using herself as the subject, Sherman has always maintained that her work is not of a self-portrait nature.



“I feel I’m anonymous in my work. When I look at the pictures, I never see myself. Sometimes I disappear”

– (Cindy Sherman: Early Works 2013)

Figure 2: Sherman. 1975. Untitled

Sherman’s narrative in figure 2 is enhanced by the transformative use of the white face makeup and the gridded layout of the images. The white makeup masks Sherman’s original identity and leads the viewer into the reveal of the new manifestation of her identity.

Like Sherman (and Lake), my current work uses a variety of props such as wigs and makeup to explore different social identities.



SCHOR, G. and SHERMAN, C. 2012. Cindy Sherman: The Early Works 1975-1977 Catalogue Raisonné. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz.

Cindy Sherman: Early Works. 2013. AnOther [online]. Available at: [accessed 3 April 2018].


Figure 1: Cindy Sherman | Contemporary Art | Hatje Cantz. 2018. [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Figure 2: Cindy Sherman: The Early Works, 1975-1977 – Gabriele Schor – Hatje Cantz. 2018. [online]. Available at: [accessed 3 April 2018].

Exhibition Notes, Experimentation, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Framer Meeting

To visualise exactly what the final images will look like, I took the A0 print to the framers for a meeting.

Many frames were considered. I had initially wanted a white frame, but found it very tricky to find a frame that did not clash with the white of the print.  Below are the frames that were considered.

In the end, I opted for a limed oak frame. This will lighten the oak and remove any orange tones. The oak frame will be very resilient to transportation and could be stripped back to the natural wood in the future. Also I could spray paint the frame if that is more applicable for the exhibition.

I will post images and thoughts once the frame has been completed.



Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Shoot FMP#15 – Hannah – 26-04-18 ​

I was able to shoot all of the images featured on this post using only natural light.

The theme was again the faces we hide behind on social media. Behind the masks we see is another person. We cannot always see who that person is.

The sitter was asked to interact with their mobile phone and to behave as if they were not wearing the mask.


The double images are reminiscent of family portraits and imply a level of intimacy between the sitters.

The most successful image from the session is below. The sitter positioning the mask onto her face gives a look of uncomfortableness and insecurity. The hand positions really portray this.

The images from this shoot are most likely to feature in the “Masked Identities” exhibition next year (although the last image would also work in “Fractured Identities”.


Contextual Research, Final Project

Final Major Project: Considering Others – Rachel MacLean

Scottish artist Rachel MacLean plays all the characters in her films.  She is often unrecognisable though as she wears thick makeup and uses prosthetics. She uses film and photography to explore issues surrounding society and identity.


Video 1: (Rachel Maclean – Culture Label I The Skinny Magazine 2013)


Tate curator Elsa Coustou cites MacLean’s work as significant. “Maclean’s work presents a critical and satirical view of the excesses of consumerism within Western capitalist society. Her films stage grotesque and stereotypical characters who live in a dystopian near-future dominated by global corporations. An example of this is the recurring presence of technology within her films and prints, which is a nod to our current reliance on smart phones and social media. In her recent work she also examines the production and commercialisation of happiness and wellbeing,” (Five minutes on Rachel MacLean 2016)

MacLean’s work ‘It’s what’s inside that counts‘ is a surreal and satirical commentary about social media and our dependence on it. Data has a physical form that promised a better life in much the same way that adverts do. Data persists “pushing yourself to the limit to realise, you have no limit. Because when you’re fast on the inside, you can do anything.” (Twisted Fairytales: Rachel Maclean’s candy-coloured, post-internet apocalypse 2017)

Data is treated almost as a god, worshipped by characters all played by MacLean. She films against a green screen, digitally cloning and multiplying her image to fill the frame with many alter egos of herself. The work is meticulously carried out to produce a dark, disturbing, yet surreal deconstruction of our modern online world. This is emphasised even more by MacLean’s unique sugar-coated Simpson-esque aesthetics.

Videos 2 and 3 are about this project. Video 2 features MacLean talking about the exhibition and work, whilst video 3 is a small part of the film.


Video 2: (Rachel Maclean On Wot U Smiling About? 2016)


Video 3: (Again and Again and Again by Rachel Maclean 2016)


Love it or hate it, MacLean’s work draws the viewer in and forces them to consider the effects of social media and our online presence on our real-life selves. Personally, I find the work intriguing and thought provoking.



Five minutes on Rachel MacLean. 2016. [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Twisted Fairytales: Rachel Maclean’s candy-coloured, post-internet apocalypse. 2017. The Unapologists [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].




Video 1: Rachel Maclean – Culture Label I The Skinny Magazine. 2013. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Video 2: Rachel Maclean On Wot U Smiling About?. 2016. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Video 3: Again and Again and Again by Rachel Maclean. 2016. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Feedback, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: 1:1 Summary Notes – 24th April 2018

Notes from my recent 1:1 with Wendy McMurdo – recorded here for reference and action.

We discussed my progress to date and considered images from recent shoots.

Key points for consideration:-

  • Action points:-
    • Consider installation constraints and plan around this
    • Consider other methods of installing work and decide which will work for the project:-
      • zine
      • gallery
      • projection
      • website
    • Private view:-
      • generate the audience
      • ask venue to link to it and promote it
      • plan artist’s talk – max 20 mins – concise – introduction to main themes of exhibition – transcribe it for CRJ and FMP document
      • Staff – handouts / drinks
    • Capture email addresses so people can hear more about future exhibitions
    • Installations shots – need good ones for FMP document
    • Refinement of work
    • How long to read an image? 5.5 seconds per image
    • Strength in portraiture
    • Installation flow / scale – currently too linear
    • Consider mapping and male gaze
        • 1-page max
        • articulate work
        • can influence the reading of the work
        • not dense or academic
        • powerful
        • articulate workPress release:-
        • can influence reading of work
    • Put different images onto social media – look at Facebook image software – facial recognition
    • The more and more I do the more interesting and deeper the project gets
    • Further research:-
      • Trevor Paglen – machine / digital mapping
      • Jamie Hawksworth – ribbon
      • Sam Irvin – scratched out faces / quotes
Contextual Research, Final Project

Final Major Project: Considering Others – Mary Reid Kelley

Mary Reid Kelley creates videos that are a combination of performance, poetry, and painting. The resultant surreal stories are black and white observations of gender and class issues.

Reid Kelley plays all of her own characters that speak in verse. She often works in collaboration with her partner Patrick Kelley to produce the work.

Video 1: (Mary Reid Kelley at Fredericks & Freiser, Best of The Armory Show 2012, by [dNASAb] 2012)


In each video, the setting and staging are meticulously created by Reid Kelley. She keeps the eyes of the characters obscured, hidden behind makeup and props. This makes the characters distant, mysterious, and out of reach to the viewer.

Her characters also wear mime makeup. Reid Kelley does this as it “makes them less like a real person and more like a mask, or a cipher, or a graffiti.” (Segal and Segal 2016). She paints on facial features like wrinkles and scars as well as facial hair.


Video 2: (Mary Reid Kelley & Patrick Kelley – “Why Does Mary Play All the Characters?” 2015)


Reid Kelley explores ideas that we have multiple personalities and she plays this out in her video works. This intrigues me and is something that I will be exploring through my work.


Video 3: (Mary Reid Kelley – “On Embarrassment” 2015)



SEGAL, CORINNE and CORINNE SEGAL. 2016. “Video artist, MacArthur fellow Mary Reid Kelley on recovering history’s lost narratives”. PBS NewsHour [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].



Video 1: Mary Reid Kelley at Fredericks & Freiser, Best of The Armory Show 2012, by [dNASAb]. 2012. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Video 2: Mary Reid Kelley & Patrick Kelley – “Why Does Mary Play All the Characters?”. 2015. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Video 3: Mary Reid Kelley – “On Embarrassment”. 2015. YouTube [online]. Available at: [accessed 5 April 2018].

Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Shoot FMP#14 – Ceri and Me – 14-04-18 ​​

A selection of images from a shoot where a friend has allowed me to contour her face and record it at different stages. These shots are all duos where the varying degrees of makeup are contrasted against each other.

It was difficult to maintain a deadpan expression during all of these images.

I am unsure if these will be part of the main project or not. I need to edit them further to determine this.


Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Shoot FMP#12 – Self-Portraits – 14-04-18 ​​

During this shoot, I applied all of my makeup and did not seek help from a makeup artist as in previous shoots. Having my hair tied back adds to the intrigue as you can see more of my face.

The contouring makeup was applied in dots and patterns to create a graphic look. I also chose to colour my eyebrows with mascara – this was quite tricky to remove!

The most effective images are those where the contouring makeup has not been blended. There is something strange about the makeup.



After I removed the elastic and the makeup, my face was again sore (see below). It is almost as though the projected image of me has adhered to my face and that by removing it I am removing a small part of me each time.


Contextual Research, Final Project, Project Development

Final Major Project: Masquerade And The Self-Portrait

My self-portraiture work is not about being myself. I am nobody and I am everybody at the same time. Makeup enables me to adopt a disguise. My presented persona makes a statement to the world about the role of makeup and the transformation it offers us.

Throughout the history of art, masquerade and self-portraiture have been explored by many artists. In the world of today’s contemporary art, this tradition is thriving.

The camera acts as a stage for the performance of roles. Masks and makeup form a protective layer around the performer. It enables the artist (photographer) to be confrontational in the message they are delivering. Masquerade and disguise are powerful in allowing the photographer to explore themselves and to challenge the way in which we view identity. This is particularly true in the online visual conscious world, where every image we self-curate and publish defines who we are in the eyes of others.

Self-portraiture allows the photographer to express inner feelings and present emotions. There is an element of self-analysis when viewing the images that penetrate beneath the visible surface to the inner self. The act of taking one’s own portrait is not authentic. The photographer constructs the image, performing for the camera.

“I pose, I know I am posing, I want you to know I am posing, but … this additional message must in no way alter the precious essence of my individuality.”

– Barthes (in Bright 2010: 141)

Despite Barthes thoughts on this, there is nothing authentic about self-portraits. The images are nothing more than a representation of the photographer. A representation that they have constructed and subjectively rendered to deliver their message. It is this staged representation that the viewer will then individually interpret based on their experiences and perceptions of the image.

“From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art.”

– (Foucault. 1997: 262)

The self-portrait does not then represent the authentic and single self. Instead, it provides a glimpse into the various elements that go together to form the identity. It allows us to see and start to understand what lies beneath the surface.

How do we know what the difference is between a self-portrait and simply a picture that someone takes of themselves? Self-portraits are becoming a bigger part of our visual language as they become more and more ubiquitous through online sharing. They are, now, essential to our online communications.



Bright, S. 2010. Auto focus. Paris: Thames & Hudson.

Foucault, M. 1997. Ethics The essential works of Michel Foucault, 1954-1984. London: Penguin Books ltd.